She touched her collar. Smiling, she slipped on her gloves, stocked up her cleaning cart and headed out to work. This was how she had started every day at Nettles since Keegan had put the metal around her neck. It wasn’t jewelry, but a thicker, more industrial-type of chain. And if it occasionally tugged at her hair, it served to remind her of his hand there. And if the weight of it made her neck feel tight, or thick, it reminded her of his right to take–her mouth, her throat, her every-part-of her… because he was her Dom. She wasn’t sure when she’d fallen in love with him, but it seemed that it had just grown slowly the way a carrot seed took forever to root and grow. It just had been there, growing through the days, and weeks, and months.
She worked through the morning, enjoying the chores. Scrubbing things back to cleanliness soothed her. Calmed her running brain, yet left her able to think about things. And realize how incredibly happy she was in her life.
After putting her tools away, she jogged down to Jakob’s office, but found him in the kitchen.
“Mandy…you look happy.”
“I am. You look–annoyed.”
“I am. My liquor supplier screwed up and –well, don’t worry about it. Just the headache of getting things all fixed.”
His phone rang and he held up a finger to forestall her.
“Yeah. No. NO. I didn’t call to reduce the order. For crissake, Don, why the fuck would I? What? No. Send the guy back here. Well fuck. That’s cutting it pretty close to opening time. Fine. Fine.”
He disconnected with a scowl.
“You okay, boss?”
He shook his head, his attention elsewhere.
“No worries. I’m glad that things are working out for you, you know. Keegan is a lucky guy.”
She smiled, then going with impulse, she hugged him hard. Pushing her away, he looked at her. Into her, it seemed. The look was intense, but in a moment, He drew her back, a genuine smile on his face. His head rested on the top of hers for a moment.
“You’ve never ever done that before, Mandy.”
“Well–you looked like you needed it. And — I owe you.”
“You owe me nothing–but your undying allegiance.”
He laughed at the look on her face.
“Kidding. What you have here? You’ve earned. You were right, that first day. I almost didn’t hire you. Because I didn’t think a woman would be tough enough to handle the club, not just the workload. But you have, and done it beyond my expectations.”
He kissed the tip of her nose, just as Keegan came into the kitchen, drinking from a travel mug.
“Hey..I know you’re the boss and all…but that IS my sub, there.”
“If I wanted to challenge you on that, I’da had my tongue halfway down her throat.”
She covered her ears.
“YOU TWO!! Just…geeze!”
Jakob brushed a finger down the length of her cheek.
“Mandy, you’re a fine girl. But not for me. Go hug your man and head on out of here. I’m going to have to keep him later than usual, I’m afraid.”
As she moved to hug Keegan, he shot an inquiring look at his friend.
“S’up?” he asked as Mandy wound herself around him. He really liked when she did that.
She tugged at his nose, insinuating herself between his coffee and his mouth. His lips slipped along hers, the barest whisper of touch. She moaned in frustration, but even on tippy toes could not quite reach high enough to put pressure on his lips. He smiled as she tried, as she used the arm around his neck to attempt to lever herself up enough to kiss him.
“Keegan!” she whispered. “Please kiss me.”
“Please kiss me, Sir.” His eyes were amused, but his mouth was firm.
“Please kiss me, Sir.”
She wasn’t overfond of this game. A note of impatience danced through her tone.
“That wasn’t very sincere.”
“It was…I am….You are such a bastard.”
His smile flashed across his mouth.
“I am, aren’t I? That was nice of you to say. Okay, you may kiss me.”
He didn’t move an inch, and her stretching full-on barely allowed her top lip to brush his bottom one. Growling with frustration, she tugged on his neck, but he remained upright.
“Well, don’t be all day about it, sub-girl. Where’s my kiss?”
She rolled her eyes at him, which made him laugh.
“Seriously, Sir, will you bend down so that I can kiss you properly?”
“I’m thinking I’m not in the mood for a ‘proper’ kiss…”
Again, she growled. He threw back his head and laughed, joined by Jakob, who was enjoying the by-play. Keegan certainly had his hands full. As did Mandy. They were a well matched pair.
Still holding his coffee mug in one hand, he grabbed a fistful of her hair, wrapping the length of her ponytail around his hand. It bowed her backwards, arching her. His mouth didn’t kiss, but devoured hers. Pain and pleasure exploded in her head as his tongue filled her mouth, tasting her. Her hair pulled horribly, but only added to the singing lust that filled her. That he could devastate her so thoroughly with one kiss…such a change for her. Her body quivered with need for him, but just as she thought she’d expire for lack of air, he lifted her back to her feet, his mouth leaving hers, and his hand releasing her hair.
“That’s even better than coffee…” he said, a moment before taking a long drink from his mug.
“Here, take this home with you, sub.”
“If you two are finished?”
In truth, she’d totally forgotten that Jakob was waiting there for Keegan. In a bit of a haze, she took Keegan’s travel mug and headed out of the kitchen.
“Good thing that door swings both ways,” observed Jakob as he watched her walk through the door without using her hands to open it.
“Not the only thing in this club that does!”
Keegan’s quick quip made Jakob smile, for a moment, anyway.
“I just came back here to check the alcohol delivery. It’s way off, and we’ll run out of beer, vodka and gin tonight. But Don says that someone here called and cut the order in half. If I find out who did that I’ll not only fire their asses, but I’ll beat them.”
“I can’t think of who here would do that. Everyone was on last night, but I don’t remember who was on kitchen detail last night. Maybe he was short and just shorted you?”
“Nope. He’s sending his driver back, but he’s already offloading at his third delivery. He’ll have to run back to the warehouse, restock the truck and put us on his end-of-day delivery. Which has us stocking while the front is open. I don’t like having a booze truck on premises when customers are on site. It clogs up our parking lot, and there’s always one fucktard who tries to enter through the kitchen to avoid the cover charge.”
With a slap on the back of his friend, Jakob turned and led the way back into the storeroom.
It was, Mandy reflected as she headed home, both thrilling and puzzling that she enjoyed the challenge of Keegan. On the one hand, she’d often dreamed of happy-ever-after with some amorphous someone. As she’d gotten older, and, she admitted ruefully, more damaged by certain someones, she’d let go of that dream. She’d felt a failure as a woman, as a partner, as a sexual being.
But the failure had not been her. Keegan and Jakob had both helped her to understand that. Perhaps she struggled from time to time with that, but really, Keegan kept her mind, her body, her heart, occupied. She spent precious little time worrying that she wasn’t making Keegan as happy as he was making her.
The lifestyle–her being a submissive–had helped. The scales of the relationship were tipped in his favor. Yet he saw it as his job to make certain that she was cared for as well. He didn’t have a problem hurting her, but he didn’t have a problem helping as well. Such a strange thing, this dominant and submissive life.
She pulled into her garage, parked, and grabbed the small sack of groceries that she’d picked up on her way home. She dropped her keys twice — distracted much? she asked herself silently. Keegan had a way about him, from strong, strong hands, to that little teasing smile he often wore. He could turn her on with just that look. Add that steaming, knee-melting kiss? She was a goner. She wished she had time to masturbate, her need was that great. The key slid into the lock and she opened the door.
Hanging her keys on the hook by the door, she locked the door, and headed for the kitchen. The hood came over her head from behind, along with an arm of steel around her throat.